Local leaders will dedicate a wastewater plant Nov. 19, in the New Hill community, a facility that once generated controversy and that will support future development in western Wake County.
Construction on the wastewater plant ended in August after nearly three years of work. It cost about $290 million and was built after surviving a legal challenge by residents of New Hill, an unincorporated area near Chatham County.
“It’s the biggest project we’ve ever done,” Apex Mayor Bill Sutton said.
The public is invited to an open house of the new Western Wake Regional Wastewater Management Facilities from 1:30 to 5 p.m. The dedication ceremony is at 3:30 p.m. The tours and dedication are part of World Toilet Day, an official United Nations celebration of sanitation around the world.
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The plant was required to meet state interbasin transfer requirements, according to a news release from the Town of Cary.
But leaders also expect the plant paves the way for Veridea, a proposed 1,000-acre mixed use development that calls for retail, housing and greenspace.
The town built the plant because it couldn’t handle the amount of sewage a project the size of Veridea would generate. While Apex paid for the plant’s construction, the facility also will be shared with Cary and Morrisville.
The plant’s opening and the plans for Veridea come at a time when the Apex Town Council is studying how much land, if any, should be set aside for business development.
Residential development has outpaced commercial construction. As of 2012, the town had a nearly 6-to-1 ratio of residential to industrial or commercial acreage. From 2013 through last month, more than 1,100 residential building permits were issued, compared to 70 non-residential building permits. In October alone, 229 new homes were approved.
Veridea developers envision the property, south of downtown Apex off U.S. 1, will be an economic catalyst that will support thousands of new jobs and as many as 20,000 new residents living in green homes and working or shopping in green buildings.
“Over time, it will be home to a forward-thinking community that seeks to accomplish objectives similar to those of (Research Triangle Park), within the context of a contemporary, ecologically friendly, sustainable mixed-use development,” according to the company’s prospectus.
Veridea is given heavy weight in Apex’s comprehensive growth plan that stretches through 2030. Then, the town estimates its population will nearly double to about 79,000 people.
That plan estimates Veridea will have 10 million square feet of office space – more than 13 times what Raleigh’s biggest building, the PNC Plaza, offers – along with 3.5 million square feet of retail and 2 million square feet of manufacturing.
It likely will lead to the creation of new roads, greenways, bus routes and other transportation options, according to the town’s 2030 comprehensive growth plan.
With the plant in use, Apex officials will consider giving Veridea incentives to speed up its growth, though it could still take a decade or more for it to be built.
Potential greenway plans shelved
Meanwhile, the town tabled plans to buy easement for greenways in the White Oak Basin.
Last month, Councilman Bill Jensen had proposed buying the easements to make it easier to build walking trails when developers who buy land in the area – stretching west of town toward Jordan Lake – turn it into subdivisions.
But Jensen rescinded that request after town staff learned it would be about 10 times more expensive than originally predicted.
“I kind of pushed for this originally, but the costs are 10 times what I imagined they would be,” he said, indicating they could approach $500,000. The council unanimously agreed not to move forward with the plan.
The town will continue with plans to buy other easements for utilities in the area, but the private developers already have agreed to compensate the town for most of those expenses.
Greenways, however, were not on the list of uses the developers would pay the town back for.